The Wages of Moonlight
I first saw myself around the age of four. We lived in the first floor of a house in Wyandanch. There was a broken-down pavilion in the yard that we were warned to stay away from. I drank the last drops of soda syrup from bottles waiting by the back door to be returned.
I am compelled to recall the past in fits and starts. Like those drips of soda syrup, the past returns with some effort, and little welcome.
The artist who comes back to me again and again these days is Anna Held. A brief flash in the early 1900s, her star was polished by Ziegfeld, but she was the one who shone. A powerful Jewish refugee who adopted the persona of a Parisian coquette, she died at 46 of a rare disorder we still have no cure for.
I am supported by those ancient stars, paid to excess by the moon and her fickle appearances. Support comes first from within. If there is any applause about, enjoy it for what it is—the current phase of consent.
In the last few months, convention as we know it has been upended. I long to return to that broken-down pavilion of the past, stepping carefully around floorboards that will bear no weight. I long for the trumpet vines and moonflowers that surely by now have created the only roof it ever needed. I long for the sweetness of soda syrup, dappled with impurities, from bottles beside the tin milk box. I long for the milkman and his shiny white slacks.
Upon waking, I immediately miss the moon, no matter her demeanor of the night before. I rush to the bathroom, and am not ashamed of it. Any who pretend otherwise are invoking a false narrative.
Art is a sign of society. Without it we are beasts, tearing our masks off in a crowded Walmart, lengthening the stay of immoral diseases by kisses of black dust.
The act of
creation offers me clarity, not intoxication. I am reassured that I am
still connected to the segment of humanity that has both feet in the
dirt and eyes in the stars.
To preregister, here's the link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/live-stream-august-12-8-pmmike-jurkovic-guy-reed-cheryl-a-rice-tickets-115417299249. I'll be reading with Guy Reed and Mike Jurkovic. The take will be split between the poets and the venue.